Bangladesh is known worldwide as the country of six seasons, but it may already have lost two of these due to the effects of climate change caused by global warming, experts have warned.
Acknowledging the shifting seasonal patterns in Bangladesh, the experts have said the theoretical debate on how many seasons the country now has is open as the symptoms of the disappearance of a couple of seasons are evident in reality.
“Earth is getting warmer, violating the seasonal chain in countries like Bangladesh,” one researcher, Pavel Partha, said.
“If the seasonal chain breaks, the lives of people in Bangladesh and the economical growth will go through significant changes, and it could result in a long-term endangerment for the country.”
A 2014 study by the International University of Japan (IUJ) Research Institute analyzed all possible pairs of neighbouring seasons in the Bangla calendar and found that two were merging, or at least had become indistinguishable from each other: the summer and monsoon seasons, and the monsoon and autumn seasons.
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During peak summer time, cracks on arable land is a common scene in countryside Bangladesh Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Titled “Six or four seasons? Perceptions of climatic changes and people’s cooperative attitudes toward flood protection in Bangladesh”, the study revealed that climatic change in Bangladesh has become so pronounced, people are now able to detect the seasonal change.
The study said such a seasonal shift must be taken seriously as it fundamentally affects agriculture and the daily life of the people of Bangladesh, where the current practices of farming and economic activities have been adapted to six distinguishable seasons.
“Under the circumstances, the susceptible condition of the country’s six seasons is a warning for Bangladesh. Our attempts for survival have already led to the loss of numerous kinds of crops, while many species of animals have gone extinct,” Pavel said.
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Monsoon season, which inspired many a great poem in Bangla, these days becomes a headache for city denizens when drainage systems fail to drain out all the rainwater Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
He said the global temperature has increased by 0.6 degree Celsius since the middle of the 18th century and the sea level has risen by about 10-25 centimetres.
At the same time, the density of ice in the Arctic region has also reduced by around 40%.
“Changes in climate would have strong impacts on the biodiversity of the world, with an estimated one million diverse species at risk of extinction from changes in reproductive periods, the growth of species and changing ecological conditions,” Pavel said.
Bazlur Rashid, a meteorologist of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, said they have noticed a significant change in the country’s weather pattern over the past few years.
“In recent years, the overall duration of winter has decreased and the monsoon is moving further and further away, and lasting far longer,” he told the Dhaka Tribune. “This year, we experienced excessive rainfall which continued until October, and it could trigger a stronger winter than last year.”
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Autumn, the season of Durga Puja, is also the nightmare for people with pollen allergy Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Bazlur said seasonal changes were occurring all over the world, including in Bangladesh, as the temperature of Earth continues to increase under the effect of global warming caused by excessive carbon emissions.
“In the next 100 years, the overall temperature in Bangladesh could increase by 1.2 degrees Celsius, while globally it could go up by an average of 2 degrees Celsius,” he added.
Acknowledging the shift in seasons in the country, the meteorologist said the department needed to conduct more research on this matter to identify the changes and come up with measures to tackle their impacts.
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General medium textbooks tells us Late Autumn is the season of harvesting, but with the development of high-tech breeds of crops, now harvesting has become a year-round activity for farmers Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
Prof Towhida Rashid, chairman of the department of meteorology at Dhaka University, said some shifts are already visible in the country’s weather pattern.
“The temperature in Bangladesh has also gone up along with the rest of the world (and) it has affected the country’s weather pattern,” she said. “Winter has become brief and monsoon has been shifting and lasting longer.”
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Winter, the season of fresh vegetables and festivities across the country Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
When asked about the reason behind the visible seasonal changes, the professor said changes in the weather pattern often took place after a certain period - typically spanning 20-30 years – in a certain region, but that man-made causes are the main contributors for the ongoing rapid global warming.
She said: “Apart from excessive carbon emissions, pollution is one of the key actors for global warming. We are currently experiencing severe dust pollution in Dhaka.
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Spring, used to be considered the best among all seasons, now just prepares Bangladeshis for summer exhaustion Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune
“If the aerosphere is densely polluted with dust, Earth cannot release the heat it receives from The Sun and eventually its surface remains warmer.”
The professor added that a set of complex studies and more research are required to determine whether any season has gone missing.